I’m appropriating Mondays for short reviews of my summer reads (I’m behind in reviewing all the books I’d like to review) and my weekly preview.
A Sort of Estella Project Review
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The unicorn had lived since before memory in a forest where death could touch nothing. Maidens who caught a glimpse of her glory were blessed by enchantment they would never forget. But outside her wondrous realm, dark whispers and rumors carried a message she could not ignore: “Unicorns are gone from the world.”
Aided by a bumbling magician and a indomitable spinster, she set out to learn the truth but she feared even her immortal wisdom meant nothing in a world where a mad king’s curse and terror incarnate lived only to stalk the last unicorn to her doom… (via Goodreads)
This isn’t *quite* summer reading and I hope I’m not out of line… See, I’m the one that recommended The Last Unicorn for the Estella Project. I intended to wait until after June 1st to read it, but May is a hard month for me and I needed a comfort read. And I think I won’t go too far into the story. Instead a few other things:
I own two copies of The Last Unicorn, a nice hard back “deluxe” edition that includes the follow-up novella “Two Hearts” (more on that in a minute) and the trade paperback edition I bought during my first trip to the university bookstore on my first college visit to UNL. That was back in 1993. I had seen The Last Unicorn movie in 1982 and had rewatched it many times on video disc. I knew it was based on a book, but I had never found the book in any library or bookstore. Memorial Union bookstore had one copy. It has a tiny hole that goes through the front cover all the way to page 20, from the unicorn’s forest to the Midnight Carnival. It wasn’t the hardback I read in May, it was this copy that will soon be missing its cover.
But first! I had decided to read all the related stories, and in order. Peter S. Beagle has written two other stories related to The Last Unicorn. One is “The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon” from the anthology Sleight of Hand. It is one of a promised trio of Schmendrick stories. Schmendrick is my favorite character in The Last Unicorn, more favored than the unicorn and even Molly Grue. Schmendrick is cursed with youth… until he becomes a competent magician. When we meet him in “The Woman Who Married…”, before he’s met the unicorn, he’s already been young for a very long time. He admits that he’s “out of stories to tell myself, out of all the games I know to persuade myself that I am what I pretend to be.” And that’s a line that resonated with me in a way that isn’t comforting for a comfort read…
The second story is “Two Hearts.” It is a more direct sequel to The Last Unicorn. It won awards! And I didn’t read it in the deluxe edition either, but instead in the issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine that I bought when it came out in 2005. The great thing is, if you’ve read The Last Unicorn and you want to spend a little more time with Molly and Schmendrick and Lir and the unicorn too, “Two Hearts” is available online, free and legal! Be warned: bring a handkerchief.
What I’m Reading This Week
It’s What I Do by Lynsay Addario became available yesterday, so that’s what I’ll be reading. Unless I’m distracted by research stuff like I was last week. My Deal Me In read is “The Steel Flea” by Nikolay Leskov, and I probably should start the Best Horror of the Year anthology.